In Brazil, off-season rainfed maize is usually affected by limited water due to irregularities in rainfall. Alternatives to mitigate these effects include ground cover to reduce evaporation losses and the use of cultivars with a deeper rooting system. We conducted a study in Goias, Brazil, to evaluate the influence of different crop management strategies to mitigate the effect of limited water in maize yield. Modeling was used to simulate scenarios that consisted of 0, 3.5 and 5.0 t ha-1 of soybean residue left on the soil surface combined with cultivar ideotypes with 0.30 m, 0.50 m 0.70 m deep rooting system grown with 60 and 340 kg ha-1 of nitrogen. The results showed that maintaining residue in the soil surface in combination with the use of cultivars with deeper rooting systems favored higher yields of off-season maize. Our results also indicated that a cultivar with rooting system in the top 0.50 m of the soil fertilized with a high nitrogen rate tended to be more efficient in the use of the soil available water.