I kinda doubt it. That sooty look seems like a mildew to me, and I’m trying to remember where I’ve seen it. And those are nice, stout twigs, whereas I expect FB on brand-new stuff- the current years growth. (They are from the 2016 growing season aren’t they? I can’t even get to my apple and pear trees yet without wading through knee-deep snow.)
I’m not very familiar with mildew except the kind that looks gray- I get it on my lilacs and sometimes on Williams Pride apple that seems prone to it. It feels like early Christmas if this is just a mildew of some kind!!!
I know sooty blotch affects the fruit, don’t know if it turns twigs black-ish.
That stuff appears on very active shoot tips from the previous summer, in mid-winter. I think it has something to do with lots of green fuzz forming on those active growths, and then the fuzz dies back in winter and turns to black fuzz. I don’t think its a problem.
Hambone, I’m really glad you asked that question, I have that black stuff in several of my trees and was convinced it was fireblight. About a month ago I yanked out my Blacktwig apple tree that was pretty covered in the stuff thinking it was FB, oh well, more room for another tree.