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Abiotic stresses like drought and heat continue to impact crop production in a warming world. This paper distinguishes seven inherent capacities that enable plants to respond to abiotic stresses and continue growing, although at a reduced rate, to achieve a productive yield. These are the capacities to selectively take up essential resources, store them and supply them to different plant parts, generate the energy required for cellular functions, conduct repairs to maintain plant tissues, communicate between plant parts, manage existing structural assets in the face of changed circumstances, and shape-shift through development to be efficient in different environments. By illustration we show how all seven plant capacities are important for reproductive success of major crop species during drought, salinity, temperature extremes, flooding, and nutrient stress. Confusion about the term 'oxidative stress' is explained. This allows us to focus on the strategies that enhance plant adaptation by identifying key responses that can be targets for plant breeding.