The development of a new crop variety is a time-consuming and costly process due to the reliance of plant breeding on gene shuffling to introduce desired genes into elite germplasm, followed by backcrossing. Here, we propose alternative technology that transiently targets various regulatory circuits within a plant, leading to operator-specified alterations of agronomic traits, such as time of flowering, vernalization requirement, plant height or drought tolerance. We redesigned techniques of gene delivery, amplification and expression around RNA viral transfection methods that can be implemented on an industrial scale and with many crop plants. The process does not involve genetic modification of the plant genome and is thus limited to a single plant generation, is broadly applicable, fast, tunable and versatile, and can be used throughout much of the crop cultivation cycle. The RNA-based reprogramming may be especially useful in plant pathogen pandemics but also for commercial seed production and for rapid adaptation of orphan crops.