Cars damaged after hitting frozen sugar beets spilled on Hwy. 12 in Murdock, Minn.

Cars damaged after hitting frozen sugar beets spilled on Hwy. 12 in Murdock, Minn.

A western Minnesota highway was shut down for a short time Wednesday night after a truck carrying sugar beets spilled its load and thousands of the yellow-colored vegetables froze to the pavement.

“They were like rocks,” said Swift County Sheriff John Holtz.

The spill happened about 8 p.m. on Hwy. 12 west of Murdock, Minn., and the beets littered the road for about half a mile, Holtz said. Murdock is about 20 miles northwest of Willmar.

A few motorists drove through them before the road was closed, and some sustained damage, the sheriff said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation sent a plow to push the “frozen and stuck” produce onto the shoulder to clear the road, which reopened about 9:10 p.m., said MnDOT spokeswoman Emma Olson.

The temperature was around 6 below in Swift County at the time of the incident, according to the National Weather Service.

It was not immediately clear how the spill occurred, but trucks were hauling beets to refineries at the time, Holtz said.

“Something must have happened with the trailer dump door,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for drivers to encounter beets that have fallen off trucks during harvest season, but “not the first week of February,” the sheriff said.

Two weeks ago a truck carrying potatoes crashed on Interstate 94 in Albertville, and front-end loaders were called in to scoop the frozen spuds off the pavement.