Wild and weedy relatives of domesticated crops harbor genetic variants that can advance agricultural biotechnology. Here we provide a genome resource for the wild plant green millet (Setaria viridis), a model species for studies of C4 grasses, and use the resource to probe domestication genes in the close crop relative foxtail millet (Setaria italica). We produced a platinum-quality genome assembly of S. viridis and de novo assemblies for 598 wild accessions and exploited these assemblies to identify loci underlying three traits: response to climate, a ‘loss of shattering’ trait that permits mechanical harvest and leaf angle, a predictor of yield in many grass crops. With CRISPR–Cas9 genome editing, we validated Less Shattering1 (SvLes1) as a gene whose product controls seed shattering. In S. italica, this gene was rendered nonfunctional by a retrotransposon insertion in the domesticated loss-of-shattering allele SiLes1-TE (transposable element). This resource will enhance the utility of S. viridis for dissection of complex traits and biotechnological improvement of panicoid crops.