DNA sequencing technology is undergoing a revolution with the commercialization of second generation technologies capable of sequencing thousands of millions of nucleotide bases in each run. The data explosion resulting from this technology is likely to continue to increase with the further development of second generation sequencing and the introduction of third generation single‐molecule sequencing methods over the coming years. The question is no longer whether we can sequence crop genomes which are often large and complex, but how soon can we sequence them? Even cereal genomes such as wheat and barley which were once considered intractable are coming under the spotlight of the new sequencing technologies and an array of new projects and approaches are being established. The increasing availability of DNA sequence information enables the discovery of genes and molecular markers associated with diverse agronomic traits creating new opportunities for crop improvement. However, the challenge remains to convert this mass of data into knowledge that can be applied in crop breeding programs.