Abstract In order to find the theoretical basis of water-saving irrigation for maize, effects of water deficit on growth, dry matter accumulation, grain yield, total water consumption and water use efficiency(WUE)of summer maize in various growth stages under alternate partial root-zone irrigation(APRI)were studied in a pot experiment. The results show that the plant height, leaf area and total water consumption under water deficit in seedling stage and the whole growth stage are significantly lower than those under conventional irrigation(CI)with sufficient irrigation, but WUE is increased by the water deficit occurred in the seedling stage. For the same irrigation method and deficit duration, the root dry weight, aboveground and total dry matter accumulation and grain yield in moderate water deficit are significantly higher than those in severe deficit. For the same irrigation method and irrigation level, the plant height, root dry weight, aboveground and total dry matter accumulation and total water consumption in seedling stage are significantly lower than those in milk stage, but the grain yield and WUE are substantially higher. For the same irrigation level and deficit period, the root dry weight and total water consumption under APRI are significantly lower than those under CI, but the grain yield and WUE under APRI are considerably higher than those under CI. This suggests that APRI with a moderate deficit in seedling stage is conducive to the regulation of vegetative growth to achieve the objective of water saving with high yield and WUE improvement.
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