Improving productivity of the staple crops wheat and rice is essential to feed the growing global population, particularly in the context of a changing climate. However, current rates of yield gain are insufficient to support the predicted population growth. New approaches are required to accelerate the breeding process, and many of these are driven by the application of large-scale crop data. To leverage the substantial volumes and types of data that can be applied for precision breeding, the wheat and rice research communities are working towards the development of integrated systems to access and standardize the dispersed, heterogeneous available data. Here, we outline the initiatives of the International Wheat Information System (WheatIS) and the International Rice Informatics Consortium (IRIC) to establish Web-based single-access systems and data mining tools to make the available resources more accessible, drive discovery and accelerate the production of new crop varieties. We discuss the progress of WheatIS and IRIC towards unifying specialized wheat and rice databases and building custom software platforms to manage and interrogate these data. Single-access crop information systems will strengthen scientific collaboration, optimize the use of public research funds and help achieve the required yield gains in the two most important global food crops.